A meat industry representative has said he believes cutting out meat is not the answer to the climate crisis.
A report published recently by the United Nations said we have 12 years to limit climate change – or suffer major consequences including flooding and heatwaves.
The most comprehensive study on food production ever undertaken was published earlier this year – with scientists saying cutting meat and dairy is the most significant step people can take to reduce their impact.
But speaking on Sky News, Jago Pearson of Finnebrogue Sausage Manufacturers said he thinks telling people to stop eating meat altogether ‘would be the wrong approach’.
“We’ve seen meat eaters having one or two days off, and move to vegetarian or vegan alternatives,” he said. “I don’t. It’s by no means the best option. If you look at maize, if you look at soy*, they have huge environmental impacts as well.
He added that the industry is looking at alternative protein sources – including insects and that they must ‘continue to innovate’.
“But the idea we say to consumers that actually they should stop eating meat altogether would be the wrong approach. The right approach would be to offer consumer choice and to continue to improve our means of sustainable farming.”
While Pearson highlighted the impact of soy production, he didn’t talk about how much of the global soy yield is fed to livestock, and how much soy is therefore consumed by meat eaters.
WWF’s 2017 report Appetite for Destruction highlights this, saying: “If the global demand for animal products
grows as anticipated…by 2050, soy
production would need to increase by nearly
80 percent to 390 million tonnes and more than
265 million extra tonnes of maize would be
needed to feed all the animals destined for
It adds: “The average European consumes approximately 61kg of soy per year, largely indirectly through the animal products that they eat like chicken, pork, salmon, cheese, milk and eggs.”
Representing the other side of the argument was Jasmijn de Boo, International Director at ProVeg, which encourages people to adopt a plant-based diet.
“If we look at how cattle are raised it’s mainly rumination, methane, all of these greenhouse gases that are causing the problems,” she said.
“It’s also the land clearing to grow feed for livestock, and that often isn’t considered – that when we cut down the forest we contribute to global warming.”
‘Vegan is the ideal scenario’
de Boo then referenced the UN’s report, pointing out scientists warned that the temperature rise must be kept below 1.5C.
“In order to do that we need to cut down on meat and dairy consumption,” she said. “Ideally, the vegan scenario is the best scenario to achieve that.”
You can watch the Sky News clip here